Several commenters on my reaction to the trailer of Allu Arjun’s new film DJ told me I should watch Arya 2 and Arya.
Rarandoi Veduka Chudham (Come, Let’s Watch the Spectacle) is an enjoyable family drama starring Naga Chaitanya and Rakul Preet Singh. This I believe is their first film together, and the first time I’ve seen Rakul in a film.
This film is put out by Naga Chaitanya’s family banner, and he did well in the film, but frankly, I enjoyed his 2016 films Premam and Sahasam Swasaga Saagipo much more. The first half of this film is slow, but it’s saved by the last hour or so of the film when the conflict comes to a head.
I also enjoyed seeing Jagapathi Babu again as Naga’s father. He was Mahesh Babu’s father in Srimanthadu.
A LOT! That’s how much I Love Bahubali. (Is it Baahubali or Bahubali??) It is one of my favorite films of all time, not just of Indian films.
My next door neighbor Nish two years ago asked if I’d want to go to this South Indian film her coworkers had said was really good. Sure. I’m in. Then we go and the price was $20! Twice the normal movie ticket price. “This better be worth 20 bucks!”
Oh. My. Gosh. It SO was. I unabashedly fell in love with the film, and I ended up seeing it 4 times in the theater alone. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen the film since it became available on Youtube. I own the Hindi dub on Blu-ray, but I can’t really stand to watch it without my beloved Prabhas’ own voice. (For the love of all that is holy Rajamouli, make the Telugu available on Blu-Ray!!)
This image was my Ipad lock screen for two years, until I replaced it with a new image from Bahubali 2. I fell in love with Prabhas from this movie, and now own several of his films on DVD.
I was captivated, jaw hanging open from the opening sequence with that huge waterfall and the kick-ass queen fighting two soldiers with an arrow sticking out of her back — while holding a newborn!
The visuals in this film just knocked my socks off. I don’t know how many times I watched the Dhivara video! I explain this film to people who don’t watch Indian film as The Lord of the Rings of Indian Cinema. It’s mythic and grand in scale with fantastic CGI world building. S. S. Rajamouli is quite simply a genius filmmaker. He has a huge vision, and he’s one up on Peter Jackson because he wrote the damn story himself, instead of just adapting a series of books.
After I saw Bahubali, I sought out Rajamouli’s other films, and I was even more gobsmacked. Who else but the master, S. S. Rajamouli would reincarnate his hero as a FLY?
Even his early film Chatrapathi with Prabhas showed crazy imagination. Prabhas introduction scene has him fighting a SHARK!
Bahubali has amazingly compelling characters. Prabhas even gets to play two! Shivu and his father Bahubali in the flashback second half. My personal favorite is the queen Sivagami, who raises both her own son Bhalla and Bhahubali:
This scene after she squashes a rebellion, knifes an attacker while holding a newborn (!!) and then nurses both infants after mounting the throne is my favorite! I love her!
Rajamouli has made a film with strong women characters even though the main thrust of the narrative is Prabhas’s story, both as Shivu and Bahubali. Yes, there is that problematic scene that some call a rape, but my first take was the same as Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood’s. Tamannah’s warrior is living a harsh life devoid of beauty and joy, and Shivu delights in showing her beauty and love. And that sexy nibble of her jewelry on her belly gets me every. single. time.
I love all the music of the original Bahubali film, and tortured my family by listening to the soundtrack non-stop for weeks and watching the videos over and over. Especially Manohari.
The film does have a few flaws. For my birthday last summer, I sat down my two younger sons and had them watch the film with me -the only Indian film they’ve ever seen. (Mother’s Day this year will be all three of my sons going to the theater to see Bahubali 2. I’ve warned them this is my present!) My son Zach really liked the Avantika character, but then was upset that she just gets that hurt ankle, and as he put it, “Then, nothing!” I’m holding out some hope she will have a strong part in the Bahubali 2, but the trailer seems to mostly emphasize the romance with Anushka from Bahuabli’s past.
And then there’s the racism. Really, Rajamouli? Actual blackface on the villain Kalakeya tribe? Ugh.
The battle scene in the second half also goes on for a very, very long time. Yes, it’s super cool, but frankly, I’m more interested in these characters than watching Gladiator movie style battles go on and on.
Watching Bahubali set me on a journey of watching more Telugu films, starting first with the older films of Prabhas and Rajamouli. I’ve learned about comedy uncles, and machete fight ratings, and on. I kind of like all the violence and the machismo and larger than life Telugu star heroes. The comedy uncles I could mostly do without, to be honest.
I even dragged Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood to her first showing of Bahubali (No, you HAVE to see this one!) and then she surpassed me by seeing it what, SEVEN times in the theater alone?
The first Bahubali movie was such a phenomenon. All over India, and all over the world. It’s been a long wait, but tomorrow I will finally learn #WKKB – Why Kattappa Killed Bahubali! I have my $40 IMAX ticket purchased already to the first day, first matinee show of Bahubali 2 at my local theater. I am beyond excited that it is releasing on IMAX!
Serendipity smiled down on me. I’ve been so busy with holiday nonsense that I haven’t had time to watch movies much the last few weeks.
One of my followers suggested I try to catch Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo (Live Adventurously) with Naga Chaitanya in theaters this week, after he read my Premam review. I’m so thankful T.J. told me about it before it was gone! It’s the start of the hectic holiday season here, and I did not even realize Naga had a new film in theaters. I caught the ONE showtime it played today, and it was pretty darn good. Guarav Menon filmed it concurrently in Tamil with another lead actor, but the same lead actress.
I LOVE the film allusions right in the dialogue itself. First there’s a title card that says “Inspired by a scene in The Godfather“. It has been a loooooong time since I saw The Godfather, so I had to look it up when I got home. It was the hospital scene. That is key to the action second half.
Another interesting thing is that the hero’s name is never revealed until the very end of the film, and it has a dramatic punch when it is revealed — And a touch of humor to it. The heroine doesn’t even know his name until almost the end. She jokingly puts his number in her phone under “Unknown”.
There’s a prologue where we see a man and woman attacked in their home, and then we see our hero beat up 6 guys who had been harassing his sister. “Stalking like that is so 80’s!”
He sees them approach backlit and there’s overlay voiceover that had me chuckling.
“Four men suddenly appeared approaching me like in a Mani Ratnam film so I knew I was in trouble.” LOL! He dispatches them easily and comments on how it was his first taste of violence.
Then the friend of his sister, Leela, moves into their family house for a few weeks, and they shyly say not much more than “Hi” to each other for awhile, and then gradually, sweetly become friends. Naga finished with school and wants to travel before settling down, and plots to hit the road on his motorcycle with a friend “His girlfriend probably won’t let him go.”
Leela unexpectedly shows up when he’s leaving and asks to go with him. I LOVED this. That she asks to just be one of the guys and share the adventure, not be his girlfriend/lover right away. They have a wonderful trip to Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of Tamil Nadu to see the sunrise. It was spectacular scenery of a place I’d never seen before.
There is a really exceptional “I’m a good decent boy” moment in the romance. For money’s sake, they book a hotel room in Kanyakumari with two twin beds. When it’s her turn to shower, he offers to leave the hotel room so she’ll be more comfortable.
THEN the whole movie turns on a dime into a thriller. They should part, as she is due home in Maharashtra, and he offers to take her all the way home. Their trip has been a secret from everyone. Neither family knows they are together.
There’s a road accident, and then The Godfather moment comes. It was her parents that were attacked in the beginning, and our hero rises to the occasion to protect Leela and her family. The cops are corrupt, and there’s one particular bad cop that is their nemesis. The action is pretty gripping and I didn’t know what was going to happen from one scene to the next. Not quite the unbearable tension of Kali, but pretty darn good.
The final resolution ending is SO satisfying as only South Indian films can be. They’re so violent, but there’s just a YEAH!! moment when the villain is vanquished and the hero is triumphant.
The lead actress, Manjima Mohan, was okay, but I am continually impressed by our boy Akkineni Naga Chaitanya. Innocent romance he excels at, and he was very, very convincing as an everyman who rises to the occasion in the action sequences. He was very good in the fight scenes. I think the cinematographer was non-Indian, maybe from Hollywood because it was more of a Hollywood close camera work kind of style in the fist fights.
The music is A R Rahman which is always good, but it didn’t blow me away like Mental Manadhil from O K Kanmani. I did really like this haunting love song which in the film is intercut with the road accident, which was a really interesting editing choice. This slow passionate song –
So, T.J. thank YOU for giving me another reason to be thankful this week of American Thanksgiving!
On a shallow note, I was also thankful that Menon gave us a few Naga shirtless scenes (he’s been working out!) and this particular shot. 😉
Ever since I watched the Telugu remake of the Malayalam blockbuster Premam, I have been playing the song Evare, and the original Malare over and over. The sweeping melody and the lyrical voice of Vijay Yesudas in both versions just transport me into a place of peace.
The Malayalam song video I found has English subtitles.
Premam [Love], the Malayalam film starring Nivin Pauly was one of the first Malayalam films I ever saw, and it remains one of my all time favorites. When I heard they were making a Telugu remake of this massive hit film, I was filled with dread. They’ll ruin all that made it special, no one could match Nivin Pauly’s charm in the three different ages, etc. Then I saw Naga Chaitanya in Manam and discovered he was the lead in the Telugu Premam. Now I HAD to see it because he was so adorable in Manam. I saw one of the last screenings at my local theater, all alone. For the most part, Naga Chaitanya captures the magic that is Premam. He’s great in the three parts, playing Vikram (Vicky) at 16, 20 and his late 20’s.
First, one of the best decisions of the remake was to have two of the actresses reprise their roles. Anupama Parameswaran returns as the wild haired teen that is the object of 16 year old Vicky’s massive young love crush. In the Malayalam film, she is the Christian Mary, here she is Suma. The Telugu love song sequence references that great wild hair, slightly tamed in the Telugu remake.
In this first section of the film, I nearly thought that Chaitanya was doing an impression of Nivin Pauly as a teen. He must have really studied Nivin’s performance, because so many expressions were similar and head tilts and so on. If you’d never seen the Nivin Pauly film, you would love this Telugu film unreservedly. One thing from this early sequence that differs is that I think the Malayalam film was in a more rural setting which added to the feel of innocence about the adolescent love story.
The middle section is the strongest in the Malayalam film, and the weakest in the Telugu. And that’s not Chaitanya’s fault. He is fantastic as the college rowdy. Since it’s a Telugu film, and they probably had a higher budget than the Malayalam, they take the initial explosion prank in the first college scene up a notch. It’s a huge fireball explosion of a transformer instead of a little firecracker to disrupt the festival performance of their rivals. And then the fight is not just a simple mud fight, but a big slow mo fight sequence in a construction sight with big sprays of sand, and bricks flying and what have you. There is also a typically Telugu cameo of star Daggubati Venkatesh as Vicky’s uncle.
The issue with this middle section is that Shruti Haasan is no Sai Palavi. The filmmakers have basically admitted that including Shruti in the remake was for financial reasons to have a name star. She just does not have an ounce of the charm and for lack of a better word, gravitas, of Pallavi. The romance doesn’t seem as deep. I remember Malar and Vicky talking marriage in the original, but it doesn’t seem to go that far in the Telugu. Since the romance isn’t as deep, the tragedy isn’t as deeply felt either by the audience. Chaitanya doesn’t handle that overcome with grief scene as well, but granted, it’s probably one of the best Nivin Pauly acting scenes of his career.
In the Malayalam, part of what made this college romance section so special was that the rogue Vicky falls, and falls hard for a young woman with acne, and not just a little facial acne. His friends mock him and don’t understand what he sees in her, but we the audience see how beautiful she is through Vicky’s eyes. Shruti Haasan with her flawless porcelain skin? Who wouldn’t fall for your teacher when she looks like that?
They used the same melody in both films for this beautiful love song (Malare becomes Evare), and the scenery in this Telugu version is just jaw droppingly gorgeous:
One nice addition to the Telugu remake is that Vicky wins over Sithara (Shtuti) by making her a (Marathi??) traditional sweet for a holiday. So that when we get to the final section of the film, and Vicky has become a prominent chef with his own restaurant, you see that he has taken his love of cooking from his college romance. In the Malayalam the final section, where Vicky finds his bride was the the shortest and an underdeveloped romance, and the fact that he owned a bakery/sweet shop seemed to come out of nowhere. This is supposed to be the love of his life and his bride, and maybe they ran out of money or Madonna Sebastian didn’t have longer dates for filming in the Malayalam version. I had always wanted a bit more, and the Telugu gives it to me.
We get a love song in the Telugu! It shows their developing relationship in the film, and when she reveals that her parents have arranged an engagement, the betrayal hits that much harder for Vicky. I think Chaitanya really came into his own in this final part of the film. Nivin Pauly played the older Vikram as reserved and lonely. Here, Chaitanya’s Vikram is a busy chef who doesn’t care about the marriage arrangements his sister is trying to make in a phone call. I really liked that they beefed up this section a bit more.
The wedding scene however, doesn’t have quite the same punch. Shruti sees that same dessert on the buffet (that Vicky had made for her) and that spurs her memory, and she just looks back a little wistfully. Again, she’s no Sai Pallavi.
So, not spoiling it, if you’ve never seen the Malayalam original ( and you should because it’s fantastic!), but this is a worthy remake. The plot is nearly identical, with a few nice additions. I really enjoyed it. It’s no hardship watching Chaitanya for a few hours! His father Naga Nagarjuna has a nice little cameo at the end as well.
Also, one of the things that had me laughing so hard out loud happened when a certain character is tied up and being beaten up. His tormentor yells, “Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali?! Tell me!!” LOL Gotta love Telugu films.
Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood raved to me before she posted her review that I had to watch Manam [Us], especially when I told her the other movie I was taking on my flights was Aligarh. I’m so glad I did. It was so wonderful! The perfect cozy family film – like drinking a big mug of hot chocolate.
I didn’t realize until I looked up the movie when I got home from my trip that the actors in this film are all in the same family. And the family company, Anapurma Studios, produced the film. This was the final film of ANR, who died of colon cancer during post-production. His son Nagarjuna wanted to work together on one last film, and it’s a worthy tribute to his father. Nagarjuna’s son Chaitanya is one of the leads, and there’s a cameo with his other son Akhil == and a special appearance by Amitabh Bachchan!
The only other film I’ve seen with Nagarjuna is King. I liked him, but the action comedy movie wasn’t the best. I loved him in Manam. Manam is a reincarnation movie. Nagarjuna loses his parents the day after his 6th birthday, and in their honor has become one of the wealthiest businessmen in India. He happens to sit next to the reincarnation of his father on an airplane. His father is played by Nagarjuna’s son Chaitanya (who is adorable!).
Nagarjuna then searches out his mother, and finds her reincarnation, too, played by Samantha Ruth Prabhu. He has an instant connection to his mother, but has to work a little harder to connect with his father. He plots how to get his parents reunited again. They had been about to divorce when they died, and there are unresolved issues.
But my favorite part of the film is when we discover that Nagarjuna has been reincarnated, too! His son is played by Nagarjuna’s father, ANR. The flashback scenes of the romance back in the past with Nagarjuna and Shriya Saran are just magical. Nagarjuna is wealthy in the past, too, and chooses a poor woman to marry because he likes her picture. He is puzzled why she wants to wait 6 months to marry and seeks her out. He discovers that she needs 6 months to earn enough money to purchase his traditional groom gift of clothes. She doesn’t know who he is and lets him stay and be her worker on her farm to earn the money faster.
The reveal scene at the wedding when she the curtain drops and she just leaps on him because of course she had fallen in love — the best! Oh, my goodness, how I loved this scene:
None of the issues and problems in the film are horrible, and even though people die — they come back and work it out in the next life.
This movie is like a big ole family group hug. I loved every minute. Highly recommend!
Margaret was right. This was the perfect feel good movie to follow the darkness in Aligarh.
When I realized Naga Chaitanya has the Nivin Pauly role in the Telugu Premam, I went out to see that film next. Review coming soon!
The love music numbers were pretty darn adorable.